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  • Cynthia Henry

Retired band director strikes a note with tamale lovers

Beth Harville is known at opries around the state, but most of the locals call her The Tamale Queen. Tamales are her speciality. The retired band teacher loves to cook, so she tried making them on a whim.

“I won every chili cook off they had at school,” she said. “It was fun! So I decided awhile back I wanted to learn to make tamales.”

She shared the tamales with friends, who encouraged her to sell them as a side hustle. Harville says she thought they were “loco.” “I got comments like, ‘You’re the Queen of Tamales’ and ‘You make them better than my abuela (grandmother), auntie, etc.’ I finally started realizing I may be on to something. So I started selling them.”

The timing was perfect, too, said Harville.

“As a single parent I needed more money to pay my daughter’s college loans. I figure, hey, if she ever wins that Tony award (since she majored in musical theater), she can honestly say her mama paid her way through college by selling tamales. Who would think a retired teacher/ country gal could accomplish that, right?”

She makes over 30 varieties of tamales and rotates her menu regularly so she can keep it fresh and hit all the varieties her customers love. Prices range from $14 to $24 per dozen. The higher-priced tamales include brisket. “I can do any heat level from super wimpy mild to oh my goodness that will curl your hair!” she said.

She makes everything by hand and cooks every day, year round. So the question isn’t whether or not she can accommodate you. The question is...which variety do you choose?

“Honestly, they all sell pretty well. I cannot say for sure which is the best seller but pork always sells as does my version of chicken cream cheese green chili and my cream cheese bacon jalapeño.”

When Harville is not making delicious dishes in the kitchen, she’s teaching private music lessons at Weatherford Music Academy.

She taught middle school, high school and beginner band for 28 years. She plays over 30 instruments and has a master’s degree in music performance from TCU. She also sings.

“I didn’t start singing until I was 50, and my specialty is country music. I perform a lot in the opry shows in East Texas.”

She’s scheduled to perform at the Wylie Opry this month.

“I love singing country music,” she said. “My favorite artists to perform are Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette.”

Follow The Tamale Queen in Azle on Facebook to find out more or see this week’s menu. Orders can be made by calling 817-475-3821.

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